Alserkal Arts Foundation Public Art Commission by urban collective METASITU opens in Alserkal Avenue

7 November 2019

we were building sand castles_but the wind blew them away_FINALFINAL3.psd


we were building sand castles_but the wind blew them away_FINALFINAL3.psd, an Alserkal Arts Foundation Public Art Commission by urban collective METASITU opened on 6 November in Warehouse 90 (previously known as Nadi Al Quoz ). The Commission by former Alserkal Residency residents METASITU suggests architecture as a process, rather than a finished object. Through it, the collective explores the cycles of ruinification, ecological footprint, returns, and alternative urban models.

METASITU has transformed the building previously known as Nadi Al Quoz into a ruin folly, a popular architectural typology in the 18th and 19th century Western garden tradition. During those times, patrons commissioned ‘deliberate ruins’ and ‘exotic pavilions’ - follies - for their estates. These structures of ‘unusable architecture’ came to establish spatial counter-narratives to the production-line logic of the, then-emerging, industrialisation era.

By deliberately creating a ruin in 21st century Dubai, METASITU reflects on the extractive city-building processes, as well as contextualising them within different human and geological timelines. In an attempt to return the building’s materials to their ‘original state’, different parts have been repurposed and reused. The Commission will run until 25 January 2020. In the spring of 2020, the space will be further deconstructed into a landscaped environment for the public.


For press enquiries:

Editor’s Notes

METASITU is a research-based and socially-driven practice, pendulating between Kiev and Athens. They usurp artistic roles (artists, curators, coordinators), using art as a strategy: a platform to support their research, a medium to reach different actors, and a tool to establish bridges across disciplines. This allows them to abuse urbanism discourses, develop new tools to empower individuals in the way they relate to the territory, and challenge spatial power hegemonies. Founded in 2014 by Liva Dudareva and Eduardo Cassina, METASITU was born with the goal of enabling cognitive emancipations around the (built) environment, by establishing new formats of knowledge exchange for understanding the urban condition today, for an exciting tomorrow. At METASITU they strive to open up new discursive lines, and demystify prevalent spatial narratives, by curating urbanism festivals, delivering workshops, producing videos, coordinating residencies, developing public programs, tutoring students, self-publishing, and transgressing real estate commodities. For the past three years they have been researching alternatives to traditional master planning techniques for post-industrial shrinking cities. They believe in creating a horizontal framework for knowledge exchange in order to subsume degrowth in their masterplans.

About Alserkal Arts Foundation
The Alserkal Arts Foundation is a non-profit that extends Alserkal’s mission to support cultural production. The Foundation offers opportunities for research and artistic production to cultural practitioners and researchers with strong regional or contemporary relevance who challenge conventional disciplinary boundaries. Through its initiatives, which include support for artistic projects, research grants, alternative learning, and artist residencies at purpose-built studios located in the heart of Alserkal Avenue, the Foundation seeks to incubate creative thinking that contributes to the region’s cultural sphere, leading to new forms of knowledge. Alserkal Arts Foundation is supported by Abdelmonem Bin Eisa Alserkal, Ahmad Bin Eisa Alserkal and the Alserkal family.

About Alserkal
Alserkal is a socially responsible and forward-thinking cultural enterprise dedicated to developing sustainable models for homegrown initiatives and to supporting narratives and research emerging from the Global South. Founded in 2007 by Emirati businessman and patron Abdelmonem Bin Eisa Alserkal, Alserkal is renowned for its ground-breaking artistic productions, experimental approach and for the creation of culturally meaningful spaces that inspire and shape communities. Alserkal has three primary areas of activity: cultivating a creative economy in Dubai and building a collaborative network of civic cultural institutions through its renowned cultural district, Alserkal Avenue; providing advisory services to public and private sector entities; and, supporting public artist commissions, residencies, research grants and educational programmes through its non-profit, Alserkal Arts Foundation.

Alserkal has transformed the cultural landscape of Dubai and the UAE through the creation of a thriving, region-specific community of over 70 contemporary art galleries, visual and performing arts organisations, designers and entrepreneur-led businesses at Alserkal Avenue, providing an essential platform for the development of creative industries in the region.

Alserkal utilizes its collective expertise in arts initiatives and cultural production, heritage creation, community building and engagement, as well as urbanism and planning for creative industries, to guide public and private sector entities in developing sustainable and responsive business models.

About Alserkal Avenue
Alserkal Avenue is a vibrant cultural district in the Al Quoz industrial area of Dubai, and is home to a community of over 70 contemporary art galleries, visual and performing arts organisations, designers, home-grown and entrepreneur-led businesses, and community spaces across 500,000sqft and 90 warehouses. Alserkal Avenue provides an essential platform for the development of the creative industries in the United Arab Emirates. As one of the region’s foremost destinations for contemporary art, and home to Dubai’s risk-takers, makers and wide-ranging creative communities, Alserkal Avenue provides cultural experiences for local, regional and international audiences through its extensive year-round programming. Alserkal Avenue is home to Concrete, a multi-disciplinary exhibitions space conceptualised and programmed by Alserkal, as well as the artist residency program of Alserkal’s non-profit, Alserkal Arts Foundation. Alserkal Avenue was established in 2007 by Alserkal following the visionary thinking of its founder, Emirati businessman and cultural patron Abdelmonem Bin Eisa Alserkal, who sought to cultivate a vibrant creative community and support cultural production in Dubai.